Support for survivors: phone use 17.12.07
Women experiencing domestic violence who have issues with phone use may find the questions and answers in this article relevant. Click on the questions to view the answers.
- I can't really use the telephone except for texting so would find 999 calls difficult in an emergency.... I wondered if you would have any alternative suggestions
- My partner reads all my text messages and voicemail. And he checks all the calls I’ve made. Is this abuse?
- My partner won’t let me use the telephone. How can I get help in other ways as it’s not safe for me to call the National Domestic Violence Helpline?
- My friend’s ex boyfriend is constantly harassing her through text messages detailing what violence he wants to inflict on her. I’m obviously worried about her safety as he’s been very violent towards her before. How can I help her?
- Will my call to the National Domestic Violence Helpline show up on my phone bill?
Unfortunately dialling 999 is the only way to contact the police in an emergency situation and the police are the only service that could help you if you were in a dangerous emergency situation. Perhaps you may like to think about ways of signalling to others that you need the police. Maybe you could speak to neighbours and tell them that if they hear any kind of violent disturbance coming from your home they should dial 999 immediately. If you have children you may want to ensure that they know how to make a call to the emergency services.
If you recognise that a violent situation may be about to occur you may want to think about leaving the home if at all possible, or at least getting yourself to a room that has an accessible escape route. If you’re in a life threatening situation it’s very important that you do everything you can to dial 999.
It’s clear from the fact that you’re thinking about this that you are in a potentially very dangerous situation. The fact that you’re not able to use the phone also points to the fact that your abuser is very controlling of you. Perhaps you may want to think about whether the best thing to do for your safety is to think about ways to safely leave the relationship.
My partner reads all my text messages and voicemail. And he checks all the calls I’ve made. Is this abuse?
The situation that you describe wouldn’t be part of a ‘normal’ healthy relationship. He’s obviously very controlling of you and this does tend to be part of a pattern of domestic abuse. You should be able to live your life free from this control and emotional abuse without someone constantly checking up on you. His behaviour is not acceptable.
My partner won’t let me use the telephone. How can I get help in other ways as it’s not safe for me to call the National Domestic Violence Helpline?
You can email the National Domestic Violence Helpline* (email@example.com), however they're not geared up to provide indepth help and support in this way. If you do email, they can certainly help you to access the support that you need.
If it’s possible you may want to think about using a phone box to make the call the next time you’re out of the house. A call from a pay phone is free.
Another alternative may be to speak to your GP the next time you go. They should be able to help you access the support that you need. Perhaps you could invent a reason to go to the GP alone, especially if he insists upon coming with you. You could say it’s ‘women’s problems’. If you have children you could speak to the health visitor or perhaps their school teachers. They may then seek help on your behalf or let you use a telephone to do it yourself.
Maybe a friend, relative, neighbour or work colleague could phone on your behalf. The National Domestic Violence Helpline would be able to pass on information that may be useful for you. Read the story of a survivor who spoke to her doctor.
My friend’s ex boyfriend is constantly harassing her through text messages detailing what violence he wants to inflict on her. I’m obviously worried about her safety as he’s been very violent towards her before. How can I help her?
Your friend could seek protection through either the police or the courts. He shouldn’t be able to harass her in this way. It’s understandable that the messages must be very distressing, however it’s important, if possible, that she doesn’t delete them as they could be used as evidence in the future. The fact that he has been violent before is also extremely relevant. If there’s evidence of this in terms of either police, doctor, or hospital reports this could also be used as evidence.
He could be prosecuted through the police for offences involving fear of violence and criminal harassment. She doesn’t have to wait for an actual physical attack to take place in order to take action against him. She could contact the police and show them the messages and they should take it very seriously. If she contacts the police it would be good for her to ask to speak to someone from the domestic violence unit as they are specially trained officers that are used to dealing with similar cases.
She could also apply for a non-molestation order to prevent him from continuing this harassment. In order to pursue this she would need to seek expert legal advice.
If possible, she could buy a pay-as-you-go phone and be very selective about who she gives the new number to. She could then hand the mobile with evidence on it to the police. If she has a contract with her network provider, she should either cancel this, or ask them to transfer it to a different number.
Will my call to the National Domestic Violence Helpline show up on my phone bill?
Calls from a BT landline won’t show up on a phone bill. However, it’s not guaranteed that other phone providers or mobile networks won’t itemise the call. You may wish to make the call from a payphone. It’s a free phone number and so won’t cost anything from a pay phone.
*The National Domestic Violence Helpline is run in partnership between Women's Aid & Refuge.